Nicki Thornton's own story

If you would like to keep up with all the news from the Seth Seppi mysteries and my writing world and join in hearing some inside snippets and take part in some competitions and giveaways, then I write a Mystery Journal and you can get it here.

Nicki Thornton’s ‘wickedly funny and wildly original haunted whodunit’ The Last Chance Hotel, was selected as Waterstones Book of the Month October 2018 and has gone on to be an international bestseller, being translated into fifteen languages.

Lashings of Harry Potter-style magic is fused with an Agatha Christie whodunit in an exuberant and wickedly funny mystery for 9 to 12 year olds. The Last Chance Hotel is first of the Seth Seppi mysteries. The sequel ‘The Bad Luck Lighthouse’ returns to a world of sinister sorcerers, even darker magic, an inspired cast of characters and a plot so full of twists it will keep readers guessing right until the end with another unbeatable mystery for Seth to solve.

Nicki Thornton’s debut won the 2019 Ealing Junior Book Award, was nominated for the Carnegie Medal 2019, was shortlisted for the 2019 CrimeFest Best Crime Novel for Children, the 2019 Oxfordshire Book Award Best Junior Novel, Shortlisted for the Warwickshire 2019 Junior Book Award and longlisted for the Specsavers National Book Awards 2018.

The Last Chance Hotel was a 'Best Book of 2018' in The Observer, The Telegraph and The Sunday Times.

Nicki is a former bookseller, and still lives in Oxfordshire where she ran a bookshop for more than ten years. She remains passionate about books, bookshops and anything that celebrates reading for pleasure and writes a regular Mystery Journal celebrating all things crime fiction for young people.

People often ask . . .

When I was growing up my favourite authors were Enid Blyton and Agatha Christie, but I also loved Roald Dahl, Charles Dickens (Bleak House is my favourite), Daphne du Maurier and Jane Austen.

My favourite children's books were probably 'The Mystery of the Disappearing Cat', 'Charlie and the Chocolate Factory' and 'The Phantom Tollbooth'.

But as an adult I still really love children's books. My current favourites are the Skulduggery Pleasant series by Derek Landy and the Lockwood & Co series by Jonathan Stroud. But there are really too many to list that I think are just brilliant. There are some great writers out there that I am simply in awe of. I am also a big Harry Potter fan.

As you can probably tell, my favourite stories tend to be mysteries, but I also love a little bit of magic.

I still believe all the best books have a little mystery in them, but murder mysteries were what kept me reading throughout my childhood and teens. I discovered Agatha Christie at an early age and never looked back.

So I found I really wanted to write a murder mystery for today's children. Which is much more difficult than it looks. I had several attempts to write murder mysteries that were suitable for younger readers, but they all turned out to be slightly dark and I wasn't happy with them.

But luckily the idea of setting the stories in a magical world put the fun element into it that I had been searching for

My passion is inspiring children to learn to love reading books for pleasure.

I think this is because I have always been a compulsive reader and reading has always been important for me. From my very earliest memories I never remember a time when I wasn't reading something. 

These are the main reasons I love reading:
1.      It is rocket fuel for your imagination! It’s brilliant for getting an insight into other lives, like a magic portal to worlds you can only dream of. Stories about other people teach us to be the types of people we want to be.
2.      I also love the fact that stories are there, ready for you dive back into. Stories always wait for you and you can read them as quickly or as slowly as you like.
3.      Reading is fun and enjoyable! Sometimes they are even a useful escape.
4.      And learning to be a good reader is also what makes you a good writer! (Although it also makes you good at lots of other things.)

“It can give you room to exist beyond the reality you’ve been given. It is how humans merge, how minds connect. Dream, empathy, understanding, escape.’ – Matt Haig
“After nourishment, shelter and companionship, stories are the thing we need most in the world.: - Philip Pullman.

I can often be found in a bookshop and for ten years was lucky enough to run my own. It was called Mostly Books, in Abingdon, Oxfordshire, and I ran it with my husband, Mark - another book enthusiast. We organised a busy events programme, bringing authors to the town. We also took many into local schools. This was particularly rewarding because it was clear hear how much these events inspired people to read and try new authors and books. 

One of the best parts of the job was talking to so many children about the books they love and what keeps them reading.

It is so important to listen and try to match each child with a book. It is one of the reasons I think we need diversity in the books that are published, because there are no 'one size fits all' children. It is important that they be given the space and choice to find the stories that they love.

And it is a privilege to have been a bookseller and to have been in a position to make a difference.

I can be found at @nicki_thornton

and review at

How did this happen . . . how did I go from someone who sold stories to telling my own?

Well, if you like reading books, this might well happen to you . . .You think it might be even more fun to write them as well.

Warning! If at all possible, this should be avoided, because while it is extremely good fun, it does take up an awful lot of time and can quickly become an obsession. It is so difficult to do as well as you want to. 

I started to write . . .

Reading lots of books made several things happen. I tried to write, but found it so difficult and my writing was nowhere near as good as all those authors I loved to read, so I never did take it very seriously. I thought all those marvellous authors must have simply been born able to write.

I was lucky enough to work as a journalist, which is terrific as someone pays you to write for a living. It was also pretty awesome as I managed to travel a lot, which I also really love to do. Books and travel both broaden the mind, but in different ways.
'Books are a uniquely portable magic.'...Stephen King

My children think there are two things which are cool about me. (Believe me, as a mum, I consider myself lucky to count two things.) The first is that I crossed the date line on Christmas Day once and had two Christmas Days – one in New Zealand, and the next day was also Christmas Day spent in California (also sunny on both days and I went swimming!). And I have flown on Concorde – twice.

But one of the things you can’t help but want to do is to tell other people about great books and, when I started my family, I turned my passion into starting an independent bookshop in my home town, Abingdon, in Oxfordshire and ran it for more than ten years, which was brilliant.

The best thing about running a bookshop is spending part of every working day talking to children and adults about their reading – what they love, what they’re looking for, what keeps them reading.

It is a great feeling when you switch people onto reading, introduce people to new books and help them to discover authors they really adore. Running a bookshop was an absolute privilege, being able to create a wonderful alchemy in a community, bringing together authors and readers.

I found it inspiring not just to recommend books, but to find out just what books are really important to people and hear about why they love stories, what do they love about reading - why do they read?

When I'd been a journalist I was writing for a living and forgot how much I'd enjoyed writing for fun. But the bookshop brought all that back to me. I really wanted to become one of those people who can spark a love of reading in children, because I know that spark can last a lifetime.

I was thrilled that my magical murder mystery ‘The Last Chance Hotel’ won The Times /Chicken House Children’s Fiction Competition.

It is a quirky story involving magic - and a murder! But it is mostly about discovering your talents and finding your place in the world and about how we all need to dream. 

I was always one of those kids you could not get out of the library (after I'd read all the books in the house, which were mainly Enid Blyton and Agatha Christie). I started to read lots of crime fiction, but I also loved the classics and funny books such as PG Wodehouse. And being a writer is definitely a dream come true for me.

No comments:

Post a comment